The 2021 football schedules are in the hands of most high school coaches ahead of the AIA’s official release and some of the matchups are headliners.
One of them is Salpointe visiting nemesis Scottsdale Saguaro on Oct. 1. Those teams met in the state playoffs three times during the Dennis Bene era with Saguaro managing to win all of them, including two state championship games in 2017 and 2018.
The schools were scheduled to meet in last year’s Open Division quarterfinals but Saguaro had to forfeit because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Salpointe, under first-year coach Eric Rogers, who replaced Bene last season, finished 6-1 with a loss to Chandler Hamilton in the semifinals.
Southern Arizona Football’s Chris Kidney, dad of former Cienega receiver Caleb Kidney, compiled the schedules through correspondence with head coaches.
Kidney, who offers analysis for the 520 Gridiron Facebook Live show along with GameTime recruiting service coordinator Rodney Cox, believes these are five of the top matchups in 2021:
- Mountain View at Marana for the Battle of the Boot between the Marana rivals on Sept. 3.
- Desert View at Sunnyside in the Duel in the District on Sept. 3 between the southside rivals.
- Salpointe at Cienega (with new head coach Justin Argraves) on Sept. 17.
- Ironwood Ridge at CDO in a game between the Amphi School District rivals on Oct. 1.
- Pusch Ridge at Sabino (two 3A South powers) on Oct. 8.
Interesting to note that the 2021 season will feature six coaches at new places. They include:
Catalina Foothills coach Danny Sainz (a nine-year assistant at Sahuaro under Scott McKee).
Cienega’s Argraves (coach at Tucson High for 10 years who replaced Pat Nugent after Nugent left to Vail School District sister school Mica Mountain, a school that will be in its second year and won’t play a full varsity schedule until 2022).
Sahuarita coach Jake Price (longtime Marana and Mountain View assistant).
Tucson High coach Richard Sanchez (the dean of Southern Arizona coaches with 21 years at Sunnyside and Santa Rita who is awaiting the formality of TUSD school board approval).
Santa Rita has a coaching vacancy that now needs to be filled with Sanchez slated to be the Badgers’ coach.
The following are schools with finalized schedules with graphics completed by Chris Kidney.
Soon to be added to these schedules are those of Tucson, Walden Grove, Douglas, Amphi, Rio Rico, Pueblo, Empire, Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita, Tanque Verde, Santa Cruz Valley, Catalina, Benson, Bisbee, Willcox, Tombstone, Santa Rita, Baboquivari, San Manuel and St. David.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.